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The Access Grid May 25 2004 Jon Johansson CNS Parallel Computing and Visualization Workshops 2004 Outline Video Conferencing What is a “Computational Grid”? The Access Grid What is the “Grid” in Access Grid? Who develops the AG? Who has AG nodes? The Access Grid and WestGrid

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The access grid l.jpg

The Access Grid

May 25 2004

Jon Johansson

CNS Parallel Computing and Visualization Workshops 2004

Outline l.jpg

  • Video Conferencing

  • What is a “Computational Grid”?

  • The Access Grid

  • What is the “Grid” in Access Grid?

  • Who develops the AG?

  • Who has AG nodes?

  • The Access Grid and WestGrid

  • Use of GSB 315

  • More Information

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Video Conferencing

  • Video conferencing is a technology in which video and audio streams are transmitted among the various geographically separated participants in a meeting.

  • Typically this is done through a room which has been set up by a telephone company

  • booking the room also books an operator from the phone company to run the meeting for you

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Video Conferencing

  • Video conferencing applications can also support:

    • Text chat

    • Document sharing (exchanging files)

    • PowerPoint

    • Application sharing (running the same program, viewing at the same content)

      • frequently there is a way for any participant to control the program

    • Electronic white board – everyone can view what someone writes and draws

  • The word “Collaboration” appears a lot in docs

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Video Conferencing

Desktop (computer) videoconferencing can be done through applications such as

  • Netmeeting (Windows 2000 and XP) –

  • Windows Messenger (Windows XP) –

  • MSN Messenger (Windows) -

  • iChat (Apple) -

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Video Conferencing


Windows Messenger


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Video Conferencing

  • Can buy videoconferencing appliances that plug into your computer. They come with:

    • camera

    • microphone

    • speaker

    • encoding of video and audio streams done in hardware

    • software to drive it all

  • load on your PC for encoding is then quite small

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Video Conferencing

ViGo by VCON

Via Video II by PolyCom

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What is a “Computational Grid”?

  • We have heard about WestGrid, Western Canada’s Computational Grid

  • A computational Grid is a large-scale computing infrastructure

  • Constructed by linking computing facilities at many distributed locations

    • think of electric power grids

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What is a “Computational Grid”?

  • “Grid middleware” is the software that actually enables a collection of computers to be used as a single resource

    • e..g. Globus -

  • It should provide:

    • high-speed data movement

    • caching of large datasets

    • on-demand access to computing

  • Keep in mind that the ability to dynamically allocate resources in response to application requests for computational services remains a research project

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The Access Grid

  • “The Access Grid is an ensemble of resources including

    • multimedia large-format displays

    • presentation and interactive environments

    • shared browsing and PowerPoint

  • interfaces to visualization environments

    • e.g. SGI vizserver

  • interfaces to Grid middleware

    • software for enabling computational Grids

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The Access Grid

  • These resources are used to support group-to-group interactions across the Grid.

  • For example, the Access Grid is used for

    • large-scale distributed meetings

    • collaborative work sessions

    • seminars

    • lectures

    • tutorials

    • training

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The Access Grid

  • Features of the Access Grid are:

    • Very high quality audio (once we have the bugs out)

    • Big display to enable full-size people shots and simultaneous viewing of all remote sites

    • Multiple cameras to show groups and multiple viewpoints

    • Collaborative software to enable remote participants to share and interact with data

    • Usage of IP multicast, to enable bandwidth-efficient networking

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The Access Grid

  • The inventors of Access Grid are aiming to build a technology that can support productive meetings between remote participants that are as effective as face-to-face meetings

  • Uses commodity hardware

  • Want to get to the point where users are able to forget the technology and concentrate on the meeting itself

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What is the “Grid” in Access Grid?

  • The Access Grid is not a computational Grid

  • Relies on the existence of Grid infrastructure

    • AG needs steady data transfer (good network)

      • packet loss degrades the audio and video streams

      • poor audio can make the technology unusable

  • Uses Globus for authentication (one example of Grid middleware)

  • Each node must have a certificate from a Trusted Certificate Authority in order to connect to a Venue Server

  • Interesting definition:

    • “The Grid is the emerging computational and networking infrastructure designed to provide uniform access to data, computational resources and humans on an extremely heterogeneous wide area network.”

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Who develops the AG?

  • The AccessGrid technology was developed by the Futures Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory


    • (for Grid folks)

  • AG is deployed through the National Computational Science Alliance (NCSA) PACI program


  • The Futures Lab continues to conduct research into ways to improve the Access Grid, for example, to increase the scalability and to enhance the user interfaces.

  • Many research institutions have ongoing projects to improve usability and functionality of the Access Grid

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Who has AG Nodes?





Czech Republic




Access Grid room nodes exist in (at least) these countries:





The Netherlands


Puerto Rico



Slovak Republic





United Kingdom

United States

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Access Grid and WestGrid

Each of the WestGrid institutions has an Access Grid node to

enable remote collaboration between the sites. Contact:

  • Simon Fraser University: Todd Zimmerman

  • University of British Columbia: Ritchie Argue

  • Triumf: Andrew Daviel

  • Banff Centre: Maria Lantin

  • University of Alberta: Jon Johansson

  • University of Calgary: Risto Treksler

  • University of Lethbridge: David Hinger

  • Netera: Adam Serendiuk

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Use of GSB 315

  • GSB 315 is a general purpose room

  • Used heavily by members of CNS for meetings involving more than a few people

  • Our agreement is for the Access Grid to use a maximum of 40% of working time available in the room

  • Access Grid node time is booked just like other meetings in GSB 315

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More Information

  • The Access Grid home page


  • WestGrid home page


    • There is a link to WestGrid Access Grid information on this page

  • University of Alberta Access Grid